It’s the much anticipated A Level results day. The culmination of all those years of hard work reduced down to opening an envelope to some marks on a couple of sheets of paper.
Today will mark a very emotional milestone for your students. For some, today will be full of relief and celebration but for others, it’s a day of disappointment, stress and uncertainty.
The truth is, the answer to ‘what do I do now?’ isn’t always straightforward. So what can schools do to help students who didn’t get the grades they had hoped for?
We’ve put together 5 simple strategies to help ease the stress of today, as well as reassure and guide students in the right direction.
1. Reassure students they are not alone and that this isn’t the end of their future goals
It’s so important to remind students to not be so hard on themselves (easier said than done, we know but…) – the education journey for this generation has not been easy. They missed out on so much valuable teaching time during COVID that we’re all still seeing the rippling effects of it now.
Not only that, but these are the first A Level exams since COVID where the grading standards have returned to 2019 levels.
2. Check with the university admissions
If your students had a conditional offer for a university place but didn’t get the required grades, that doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t get in. Encourage them to call the admissions office. The university may still be able to accept them onto the course or even offer them a place on a different course (which they can usually change after the first year).
Whether you have students who didn’t achieve the grades they needed, didn’t get offered a place, or maybe they’ve just simply changed their mind on what they want to do but still want to go to university, clearing is a place to start.
- Head to the UCAS website to check for any vacancies available.
- Once they’ve found a course they want to apply to, they need to give that university a call to check if they meet its entry requirements and if there are still spots available.
- If the university provides your student with an offer and they choose to accept it, they can add the clearing choice to their UCAS application(they simply click ‘Add Clearing Choice’ and fill in the course details by the deadline date the university should have provided them.
NOTE: It’s important to advise any students that only applied for one choice in their original UCAS application that they will be charged an additional £4.50 to go through Clearing.
4. This doesn’t have to be their final grade, resits are always an option
For some students, they have their hearts set on a particular university or course, or maybe clearing just didn’t provide them with the option they wanted to pursue. That’s completely fine. Students can always look to retake their A Levels and reapply next year. For some, they just need a little more time to get the grades they deserve. It’s completely normal, we all learn at our own pace.
They’ll need to decide how/where they’d like to take their resits, most students will likely choose to stay at their current school (if that option is available to them), whereas others may want to look at an alternative e.g. school, college, sixth form or online.
NOTE: It’s important to remind students that they will resit their exams at the same time as everyone else in May/June, there is no longer the option to resit A Levels in January.
5. Not going to University? There are SO many other options
For some students who just simply assumed they’d be going to University, not getting in can have a really big knock-on effect to their self-esteem. They may even be in two minds as to whether they want to continue down the academic route.
While University can be a great step for some people, there are now so many other routes students can take to get on their chosen career path without even necessarily needing a degree.
- Apprenticeships enable students to gain skills and qualifications whilst in a real working environment, which is arguably something employers really value (sometimes even over qualifications). There is also the added bonus that they won’t have any student loan debt and will be getting paid at the same time as they learn. They can visit the government search engine to explore available schemes here.
- They can also explore other qualifications such as diplomas or foundation courses.
- Internships and work experience placements are still to this day one of the best ways to get into a specific career role or even work your way up a company you’ve always admired. It can be tricky for students to get their foot in the door but they can always start by asking for work experience placements and then proving themselves. Some companies would even argue that nothing really prepares you better for the work environment than getting some real experience. So by the time their friends get out of university in 3 years and are applying for entry-level jobs, they could find themselves further up the career ladder.
The most important thing to highlight for any students whose A Level results day has not gone quite to plan, is that from here on out all of their friends will start embarking on different paths, there is no right or wrong way forward.